[Review] The First Purge (2018)
The First Purge is a 2018 American action horror film directed by Gerard McMurray and starring Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Mugga, Luna Lauren Velez, Kristen Solis, and Marisa Tomei. The fourth installment in The Purge franchise, the film is a prequel depicting the origins of the first annual “Purge”, a 12-hour span once a year in which all crime in America is legal. Written and produced by James DeMonaco, it marks the first film of the series not to be directed by him. The First Purge was released on July 4, 2018, by Universal Pictures. It has grossed over $136 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing entry in the franchise, but, like its predecessors, received mixed reviews from critics.
Welcome to the movement that began as a simple experiment. To push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America test a sociological theory that vents aggression for one night in one isolated community. But when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the others, the contagion will explode from the trial-city borders and spread across the nation.
The first purge began as a social experiment on Staten Island with the idea of pitting violence against violence. Many people were paid to participate in the experiment, and later a bunch of gangs being shipped into the area. The First purge comes as no real surprise (being that every installment of The Purge franchise is basically the same) and was designed to eliminate the lower classes. The film revolves around our main character, Isaiah, who has a few issues with a psychotic killer. The film pretty much takes place in the future when we are in the middle of a depression and the ruling party, disguised as a white supremacy party calls for one night of legal crime on the Island.
Most everyone that’s seen any of the Purge films already knows about the politics that is behind it, so the ending won’t a breathtaking climax or anything different, just different characters to be honest. However, this purge film is busily paced with a lot of different characters and events, which kept everything varied and interesting, and as forced as the plot may seem, you really do get to feel for all the characters. I also liked the visual style and the wide display of creative and truly creepy costumes. To me, the dialogue could have been way better on some points, and there are some comically forced Trump references involved. The actual subplot with the government official and psychiatrist overlooking the Purge is so damn weak and poorly written. One point of interest I really enjoyed is that the film was shot mostly at night, and you were still able to clearly see everything that was happening.
All that being said, The First Purge takes on some different tactics than the other installments did. Our first scene of the movie shows the New Founding Fathers employees asking Skeletor questions about his rage, his need for violence, and his plans for the Purge. They also interviewed many different people to offer them payment if they stayed and participated. Many of the poor and disadvantaged people decided they must stay for the money because they are so very desperate. Others just want to kill other people, terrorize anyone they can, create mayhem, or just party hard. When the Purge starts, the New Founding Fathers are pissed off to learn that most of the people just wanted to party or loot shit from the broken-into stores around their town. The NFFA’s actual goal was to have people kill each other and effectively getting rid of the people of color, the poor, and who they consider as a drain on their society.
The actual Purge experiment was designed by Marisa Tomei, who tried hard to convince us that she is a true believer in the moral righteousness of the Purge. As our protagonists, Nya, her little brother, and ex-boyfriend wander around the chaos they have a terrified look in their eyes walk through the abandoned streets. The First Purge also teaches us that the police aren’t very helpful in the lives of our characters. When the government discovers that people haven’t been murdering enough, they begin sending in racists to help gun people down. The KKK is shown walking through the streets wearing bloody sheets, and a leader of one of the units assigned to murdering everyone in our main character’s apartment building is dressed up as an SS officer, sporting a minstrel black-face mask. A neighbor quickly pulls Nya aside and says she’s worried about the state of the country. These images are all horrifying, and just how terrifying would the world be if we were all wearing SS uniforms? Not sure I buy into it, but I can see why some people are saying this film is actually a wake-up call for the things about to come. Hmm. Any thoughts on this?
Title: The First Purge
Release Date: July 4, 2018
Runtime: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Action
Studio: Universal Pictures
Starring: Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Steve Harris, Marisa Tomei
MPAA Rated: R
Directors: Gerard McMurray
Reviewed by: Mike Davidson
Our Rating: 3.4 /5
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